History of Success
BGS was founded as a school for boys by Dr George Henry Crowther in 1882. Since then, BGS has had an unbroken history in turning generations of boys into successful men. Through significant and ongoing investment in facilities, staff and new teaching techniques BGS has been able to constantly adapt to an ever changing world to ensure that our students have the skills and self-belief to meet the demands society places on men.
George Henry Crowther was born on 8th June, 1854 in Jamaica, the eldest of six children born to Joseph Crowther, a sugar bailiff and his wife Mary Ann, née Bebb. His parents, who had migrated to the West Indies from Yorkshire, arrived in Victoria in 1857. He graduated from the University of Melbourne BA, LLB and later completed MA and LLD. Dr Crowther opened his Brighton Grammar School on 14 February 1882. On that day, eight boys were present; by the end of the year, the school boasted 29 pupils.
The booming 1880s brought an influx of boys. Outgrowing the coach house, in 1883 the school moved to Temperley Lodge, situated in Outer Crescent just north of Allee Street. In 1886 ‘Pendennis’ was built in New Street and gradually adjacent properties were acquired. In 1890 the School roll listed 160 boys.
The depression of the 1890s halved this number. In 1905 ‘Rosstrevor’, a large Victorian house and its five acres largely covered with trees, scrub and swamp, was purchased. Old Boy engineers and 4000 loads of filling from Brighton’s in-going sewerage system produced a fine oval. The official opening, a gala day of athletic sports, came in 1907.
Dr Crowther died in November 1918. His son, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Arnold Crowther, a former member of staff, was still on active service in France. He returned in February 1919 to assume the Headmastership.
In 1924 Mr Herbert Dixon was appointed Headmaster. With the School in danger of bankruptcy, Old Boys worked together to change the structure. In 1926 the School was incorporated and came under the auspices of the Church of England.
In February 1927 the Governor-General, Lord Stonehaven, performed the official opening of the first buildings on the present site of the Senior School.
Geoffrey E. Green became the Headmaster in 1939. An academic and an excellent teacher of modern languages, he effected a marked improvement in academic performance. Sadly, sickness caused his sudden resignation in May 1942.
In September 1942, Rev. Philip St. J. Wilson was inducted as Headmaster. His leadership brought a vast array of changes. Enrolment increased from 250 to 800 but this was accompanied by accommodation problems. Rosstrevor (then the Junior School) was vastly overcrowded; Junior boys occupied former dormitories after the Boarding House closed in 1954. The Memorial Hall and Annandale Pavilion were welcome additions and the Tower Wing was extended. In 1958 BGS joined the Associated Public Schools of Victoria, (APS), the former Brighton Gas Company premises and grounds were bought, and Wilson House was built. Canon Wilson oversaw the establishment of the Science wing and the extension of the Library at the Senior School.
Robert L. Rofe was inducted as Headmaster in May 1967. His leadership involved many changes to curriculum and extra-curriculum areas. Physical changes included the swimming pool, the Physical Education Centre, the Clive Crosby Building, the Robert Sanderson Centenary Hall, the R. L. Rofe Creative Arts Centre, the Rosstrevor Hall, the Zachariah Wing and the Baddiley Building. Numbers steadily increased, academic results were excellent and success on the sporting field changed from dream to reality.
In 1996 Michael S. Urwin was appointed as the school’s seventh Headmaster. Under his guidance the school has become a leader in boys’ education. Facilities have been extensively upgraded. The new Junior School was opened in 2002. Sporting diversification and success continued. Academic and cultural activities expanded and regular concerts were held at the Concert Hall and MRC.
In 2004 the School purchased the large Girrawheen site north of Allee Street. The new Senior School Library Resource Centre, Atrium et al. were completed in 2006. In 2007 the Year 9 Sea Change Program was developed. The Junior School and Mitchell Ovals received synthetic surfaces in 2009, and large water storage areas were established under the Mitchell and Crowther ovals. In 2011 the Peter Toms Early Learning Centre was opened and work began on the new Middle School, on the site of the former Girrawheen Chapel.
When Mr Urwin left in December 2013, enrolments were at record levels and there were 1262 boys on the School roll.
In 2014 Mr Ross Featherston was appointed as the School’s eighth Headmaster. His appointment coincided with the opening of the new Middle School, the School’s most ambitious building project to date.
Straight from the archives comes this historical footage taken in 1927 at the official opening of the Tower Wing.